Clam Shucking Tips from a Pro

June 01, 2014
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Here are some great tips to shuck clams like a pro, from a pro. Jamestown Fish Executive Chef Matthew MacCartney shows us the best way to shuck clams for his signature Linguine with Clams.

Tips for Super Shucking

  • Use a proper clam knife (as opposed to an oyster knife).
  • Open your clams over a bowl. You’ll want to save the precious brine instead of getting it all over your counter.
  • The key to shucking is breaking the adductor muscles, located on either side of the hinge, that bind the clam to its shell. Really fresh clams can be stubborn so try not to tap them which makes the shell tighten up.
  • If you are serving the clams on the half-shell try to keep the clams whole. When the upper adductors are severed, twist off the top shell and carefully slide the knife under the body to loosen, serving the whole clam in the bottom shell with some of the brine.

Note: Chef MacCartney is lefty—be sure you wield the clam knife with your dominant hand.

[Click on any image to launch the instructional slideshow]

Clam shucking, step 1
Clam shucking, step 2
Photo 1: STEP 1. Nestle clam, with the hinge set in the crook between your thumb and index finger.
Photo 2: STEP 2. Insert the edge of your shucking knife into the lip on the notch side of the clam and push the knife in with your fingers.
Clam shucking, step 3
Clam shucking, step 4
Clam shucking, step 5
Clam shucking, step 6
Photo 1: STEP 3. Twist the knife to pry open the shell, breaking the first muscle.
Photo 2: STEP 4. Using your fingers, prop open the shell while you slide the tip of the knife along the top shell to detach the upper muscles.
Photo 3: STEP 5. Slide the knife along the bottom shell, further loosening the clam from its shell.
Photo 4: STEP 6. Open the clam wide with your fingers, and detach the clam body entirely.
Clam shucking, step 7
STEP 7. Slide clam into bowl, grab another clam and start again!

With your clams shucked, follow Chef MacCartney’s recipe for a delicious dinner as easy and elegant as this: Clams and Linguine Recipe.

Article from Edible Rhody at
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